Tuesday, March 30, 2010
What exactly does a Freelance Editor offer an Author? Diana explains in today’s blog.
Diana previously shared this information in Christian Fiction Online Magazine, http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/ and thought she would re post it here for the Blog reader.
One of the many changes we have seen take place in the publishing industry since the economic downturn has been the need for authors to provide 'camera ready' manuscripts. The editorial burden of tightening up a manuscript used to fall on the publishing house. In the past, an editor would have been assigned to the writer, even providing such personalized service as to travel to the authors local and stay for extended periods of time to do a 're write' before going to press. With the recent layoffs and downsizing, publishers no longer offer this once routine service. Many authors are now finding the necessity of hiring an editor to help them prepare their manuscript for submission. I thought it might be good to elaborate a little on the types of services that are available to authors, and what costs you might expect to pay for such services. Keep in mind that rates vary considerably depending on the nature of the work, the time frame of the assignment, the degree of special expertise required, and other factors. The industry standard for a manuscript page, however, is a firm 250 words.
Terms and definitions:
Freelance Editor: Freelance practice varies greatly. Some require clients to sign written contracts while others may perform work based on verbal agreements, perhaps enforceable through the very nature of the work. Some freelancers may provide written estimates of work and request deposits from clients. They help getting words and information ready for publication, offering temporary help, occasional assistance, or long-term commitment. A freelance editor can help you with planning, outlining / organizing, enriching, ghostwriting / collaborating.
Copy Editor: the work that an editor does to improve the formatting, style, and accuracy (but not content) of a manuscript. This work is done before the work of proofreading.
Proofreading: consists of reviewing any text, either hard copy on paper or electronic copy on a computer and checking for typos and formatting errors. This may be done either against an original document or "blind" (without checking against any other source). Many modern proofreaders are also required to take on some light copy-editing duties, such as checking for grammar and consistency issues.
Ghost Writer: A professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person. Celebrities, executives, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, magazine articles, or other written material.
When an author submits a manuscript to the publisher, that manuscript may contain material from outside sources. Photographs, text quotes, cartoons, full article reprints, charts, line drawings, graphs, maps, screen shots of websites or software--all sorts of things--may have been found during the course of research and may be added to the manuscript by the author. Someone must (1) evaluate whether permission is required for each of those "found items" to be printed in the book and, where permissions are required, someone must (2) obtain written permission before each item can be reprinted.
September 2008 the Editorial Freelancers Association posted these fees on their site as a rough guideline for common editorial rates. (EFA is a national not-for-profit —501(c)6— organization, headquartered in New York City, run almost entirely by volunteers.)
Copyediting, basic 5–10 ms pgs/hr $25–40/hr –
Copyediting, heavy 2–5 ms pgs/hr $35–50/hr
Substantive | line editing 1–6 ms pgs/hr $40–65/hr
Developmental editing 1–5 pgs/hr $50–80/hr
Proofreading 5–10 ms pgs/hr $25–35/hr Researching NA $25-50/hr
Writing 1–3 ms pgs/hr $50–100/hr $1–$2/wd
NOTE ms = manuscript, prn = printed, pg = page, hr = hour, wd = word
I found another individual editor willing to offer the following rates:
Word Rate$0.008 per word (0.8 cents per word) Transcription Rate$80 per hour of dictation/interview Ghostwriting Rate$40 per hour
Your particular agent should be able to provide a list of editors they respect and feel will offer you a quality service. I recommend you interview each editor, asking what their fees are, a realistic estimate of when they can complete the project and what their fees are. Be sure to choose an editor not only based on expertise but also on whether you feel that you can work well with them.
I hope you found this helpful. Here is hoping you have a glorious Spring Day in your part of the country and around the globe.
From my heart to yours,
Monday, March 29, 2010
Today I’m honored to be the guest blogger. Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency, LLC. has been my agent since 1994. That’s longer than some marriages last these days. She was referred to me by Jacqueline Cromartie a publicist who promoted my first book published by Word called Homestead (1991). When I attempted my first novel and needed an agent, Jacqueline suggested Joyce. The rest is history. Sixteen novels, three nonfiction titles, and numerous articles later, we’re still together. My latest novel An Absence so Great (WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Random House) was just released. It’s based on my grandmother’s life as a turn of the century photographer in the Midwest. Joyce said I could blog about anything so I’ve decided to blog about fear. Some of those writing fears are speaking to me this morning.
A writer fears all sorts of things. We fear we won’t finish the manuscript. When we do, we fear it isn’t good enough. When we look for an agent, we fear we won’t find one or it’ll be the wrong one for us. When our agent finds us a publisher, we fear it might not be the best publisher for our “platform.” We fear we won’t have a platform or at least not as articulate or contemporary a one as the bestselling author’s we so admire. Once the book is published, we agonize over how to promote it, wondering whether we ought to have put something more in our contract so the publisher would invest more in our baby’s success. We agonize over reviews or the lack of them. In recent years, we’ve added how to manage writing time and Facebook or Twitter issues to our list of fears. Then, when we begin the next book, we wonder if this story can really be told and if so, do we have the skills to do it? I still have a level of anxiety when I begin because while I’ve written nearly twenty books now and well over a million words I never know if I can write THIS book, or if I’ll find the right words this time!
Because my last two novels are based on a family story, I fear what my relatives will say and whether or not I’ll be invited back to the family reunion.
But here’s the worst thing about fear: it could easily stop us from doing what we feel compelled to do. It could keep us from risking exposure by failing to send the manuscript out for an agent to consider or for a publisher to purchase. If fear does keep us from moving forward, it will not only be our loss but the loss of others who could be encouraged by our story.
I’ve discovered that whenever we undertake anything new, we experience fear and anxiety whether it’s learning how to ski (I could die doing this!) or fixing the latest dish for the first time planning to serve it to our in-laws (they could die!). Rarely do these things happen, of course and I remind myself of that when I feel the anxiety build.
One of our greatest fears is humiliation, looking foolish. The one short piece I had published years ago in Writer’s Digest was my definition of the writing life. “Writing is like undressing in front of the window at night with the lights on. A rejection means someone else was watching me undress in front of the window at night with the lights on and what they saw was so terrible, they pulled the shade down.” For many writers, that fear becomes so great that if they do send their work out at all, they may not go past the first rejection, not give worth to the work and instead stuff it into a drawer beneath their underware never to be seen again.
One trick a writing instructor taught me was when I finished a manuscript, to make a list of the ten top markets, write them on a manilia folder and to send it out to the top of the list with a date. When the rejection letter came, I would re-read the manuscript once and if it still sounded good, within 24 hours, I’d send it out to the next name on the list. If we make that list when we’re feeling strong, then we’ll have a next step when we’re feeling afraid as that rejection comes back. The important thing is keeping the work (proposal, query etc.) in circulation.
Someone once told me that FEAR stands for Future Evidence Appearing Real. When we worry or are fearful we have plunged ourselves into fantasy of sorts, anticipating the worst. But if we follow that with questions like, “how likely is it that the whole world will think poorly of me if my book isn’t a bestseller?” or “Is it true that if an agent rejects me (I had several reject me BTW) that I’ll never find one who won’t?” Answering those questions truthfully can ease a great deal of anxiety and fear that might keep us from moving forward because the fact is, the whole world isn’t really interested in us. And most of us don’t write for the world…we write because we’re creative beings who would be lost without this passion to tell stories.
The key, I think, is moving forward despite the fear, responding to that powerful pull that asked us to write in the first place. Years ago, I took flying lessons and had an accident in my eleventh hour of solo flight. It took me years to get back into a small plane and finish my pilot’s license. I had fears and there was evidence that they could come true. But I didn’t want fear to define my life. I didn’t want anticipation of the future to keep me from doing something I said I wanted to do. Hebrews 13: 6 reminded me: “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” So I found a good instructor and two years later acquired my pilot’s license.
Few of us need fear that if we get published we’ll die; or if we don’t get published that we’ll die. What we can do with those fears is remind ourselves that we cannot be humiliated before God if we are trusting in God’s guidance and moving forward for God’s glory. A favorite poem of mine written by Barry B. Longyear (one I read each morning before I begin to write) ends with these words: “If material success should come my way, remind me to thank you. However, if the only reward I obtain for my writing is the writing itself, let it be sufficient.”
Let our work be worthy because it is the work we’re called to regardless of what becomes of it. And remind ourselves when we do experience those fears that all we are called to do is the best we can in a new situation. “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid.”
I hope as a writer or agent or bookseller or reader, you’ll claim that promise as well.
Please visit my website www.jkbooks.com and sign up for my Story Sparks newsletter; my blogs at www.janekirkpatrick.blogspot.com (one is my dog’s blog – www.bodaciousbothe dog.blogspot.com.
Jane, it has been my pleasure to represent you and call you my friend. Thank you so much for guesting on our blog today, I hope our readers will stop by your web site and visit your blog links.
May you all have a wonderful day.
In His Service,
Saturday, March 27, 2010
THE LIBRARY CAT
I’ve recently been working on a project that has had me visiting a large number of library sites. In the process I’ve discovered many of the sites include a picture of the ‘library cat.’ Library cat? What’s up with that? I do know a couple of bookstores that I’ve been in that I was quite likely to be visited by the resident feline who came by to survey my reading preferences.
One library said their particular cat was one of 640 known library cats in the country. I don’t know how valid that number is but from the number of sites where I saw one posted I am inclined to believe it. It caused me to wonder, why cats? In all of my wanderings I did not run across the library poodle. I saw no library parrot. If they had a relaxing tank of fish they didn’t say anything about it. Maybe some of them might have had a rat or two in the musty portions of the basement and I understand no mention of that.
Is it because cats are quiet, tiptoe around on padded feet? Because they eat little and are economical to keep? Not all cats befriend people easily but the ones posted look as if they enjoy greeting and welcoming visitors. Is it because they don’t have to be ‘taken out’, but will go do their business in a litter box hidden in some dark corner? Whatever the reason books and cats seem to go together, or is it just libraries and cats?
Whatever the reason I have no problem with it. Personally, my writing assistant is a Brittany Spaniel that my family felt would keep me from staying in my chair too much at a time but I found that installing a doggie door and keeping a sack of doggie treats on my side table will forestall that strategy nicely.
While I’m on the subject, I love libraries. I consumed more books as a kid than we could afford and the library became a stop on the way home from school most days. I read, I hung out, I played chess, sometimes I even helped them re-shelve books and did some chores there. There is a very special place in my heart for libraries.
As a result the project I referred to is visiting them. I think I’ve been to every library in the US that can be visited online. Those that have online catalogs I look to see if any of my books are shelved. For a genuine library person being shelved in a library is the utmost honor, and I know it helps bring name visibility for a writer in a community. I actually have a list on my site where I have confirmed they can find me in a library. I encourage my friends to recommend my books for shelving. I’m running a library promotion for my new YA aimed at getting kids to read and discuss it, but focusing on doing it through libraries.
Do you suppose I should get rid of this dog and get a cat for my library? If I did who would alert me when neighbors come home or the UPS guy is here? Who would protect me from fierce neighborhood cats, predatory bunny rabbits, and the roadrunner that runs amuck outside? I suppose I’ll just interface with library cats when I venture into their domain.
Friday, March 26, 2010
10 POINTS TO HELP PEOPLE IN A BAD ECONOMY
1) Stress less. The gulls do not store up for themselves fish and shrimp and yet they do not starve. If a bird can find food enough each day so can a man, woman and child.
2) Love more. Love is free. Taxed, but still free. Families and friends remain the true source of significance. A life loved and being loved will outlast any economic downturn, so share more, not less.
3) Give it all to God. Nations rise and fall. Economies expand and collapse. Through it all, God remains on His throne. Whatever financial difficulties you face today God foresaw it long ago and will see you through. During tough times you may be tempted to recoil, retreat and redouble your efforts, but God’s economy calls for to a radical departure from our human response. God says, “Give it up.” Not quit, but let go. Work, yes. Budget, yes. But give whatever remains of your wealth give to Him and trust that He’ll make it stretch to provide for your daily needs.
4) Dream big. Dreams do not die, they only go dormant. A nut buried in the ground does not remain a nut. In time it becomes an oak. You may not see your dreams come true but that doesn’t mean they won’t. History is replete with discoveries born from the grave. Make a photo album of places you’d like to visit and give it away as a gift. Write a letter of past memories and share it with your spouse and children. Our plans for the future begin with our desires of today.
5) Smile often. You matter less than you think and will be missed more than you know so be careful how you live. Your actions and attitudes matter.
6) Trust others. Trust begins with an open hand. We cannot reach for the future with a closed fist. If you want to move forward you will have to trust again. Be wise, be discerning, but trust. This is, after all, the lifeblood of our economy.
7) Let go. You cannot make a sun rise, sparrow sing or rain cloud bloom. You control less than you think, so relax, let go and help those you can.
8) Travel more. Memories cannot be reposed or auctioned off and their value does not fluctuate with the market so travel more, not less. Time is the only contraband you have and what you don’t spend on others you should exchange for memories, so take trips—even if it’s only around the block to a new park, creek or community center. Moving gets us going. (‘Kay, Yogi Berra didn’t say it but he could’ve.)
9) Spend less, savor more. A small meal eaten slowly can fill a hungry belly. Give thanks for the small things and do not begrudge the tough times. You can endure more than we think. You’re an American.
10) Look up. A bowed head will miss the sunrise, sunset and silver lining. Of all creatures, man stands nearest to heaven, so lift your chin, open your eyes and gaze toward the stars.
Thank you Eddie for giving us some ways of looking at our present economic situation in a new and godly way. I am sure every reader will find at least one take away point to help redirect their focus. I have.
From my heart to yours,
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
What is your latest project? Tell us about it.
I always have something out there, I'm always writing, so I have a couple of them in the works. I have a new one about a young widow raised in an atheistic household. She takes a huge leap of faith, starting her own environmental engineering firm and moves to Lake Placid to understand her relationship to God. The odds are against her, she's undercapitalized, her father and in-laws try to sabotage her efforts, and the man she falls in love with is leading the opposition to her project. Through it all she reaches out to God in the one place she could find Him, the cool beauty of the Adirondack forests and mountains.
The other project is very close to my heart and I pray daily that it will be picked up. It is a young adult book titled "Turn" about a fifteen year old boy working toward his rank of Eagle Scout. While physically he has all the potential to be a bully, his gentle nature turns him from that road. He's a little lost and struggling to identify just who he is and how does he fit into the world. He joins a canine search and rescue team and with their help reaches for his dream of becoming an Eagle Scout with lots of fun adventures on the way, including getting his own pickup truck. My son is an Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow and I remain a merit badge counselor. I watched Scouting help lead my son to be a man I am proud of and I believe this book will help other boys find the path to Scouting and their way to valuable members of society.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Mostly from every day incidents and the things I see around me. I think it was Louis L'Amour who said something like 'if there was a stream in my book I've drunk from it'. I try and take places I've been and describe them so the reader can see, hear, smell, taste and feel what I felt in that place. My call to service has been canine search and rescue, I use my dogs to find lost people, so I've been to a lot of interesting places. Of course my canines are a big part of my life so they're always sneak onto the pages. I just wish they were as well behaved in real life as they are in my books.
What has been the hardest part of writing your latest book and how did you overcome it?
The key to any book is making the reader want to turn the page to find out "what happens next?". It's easy to slip into a passive voice that lulls the reader to sleep. If my reader picks up a book I wrote at ten in the evening planning to read just one chapter and the next time they look at the clock it's 3 AM, I've been successful. I learned to outline each chapter in my books so something happens and the energy never stops flowing. My first couple of books were written "seat of the pants" and I only had a vague idea of what would happen. I'm in the process of ripping those early works apart and fixing them now. Having the discipline to write that outline is difficult. It's a lot more fun to jump into the story and find out what happens, but if the true recipient of your writing is the reader, than you owe it to them to plan and work at bringing them into the pages of your book so they are living in the skin of your main character.
What do you hope people will take away from reading your books?
That depends on the book. Young adult is a different audience than romance with a different level of maturity. I guess if I really looked for an underlying message it is best summed up in Joshua 1: 9 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
What new projects are you working on?
I write devotionals and short stories so right now I am focused on them. It is giving me time to outline a romance set in the early 1920's about a young Italian couple that meet in a small city in New York. Will they be able to establish a new life and foundation for generations to come or will the seductive hand of organized crime follow them to the new world? I'm also working on a romance set on a search for a missing caribou hunter one degree south of the Arctic Circle that travels to the Caribbean. Will the heroine trust the hero and God or will she lose more than her life trying to handle things herself? I'm also working on the third book in the young adult series that starts with "Turn". I need to come up with a good title. It is the story of Shane, the most spiritually grounded of all the teens and the struggle he faces to forgive himself for getting one of the search dogs hurt while avoiding the recruitment efforts of a white supremacist group. Can he and the new protection trained search dog save his family from the retaliations that come their way?
Where can people find out more about you and your writing? The programs and speaking that you do?
I have a shoutlife page that focuses on what I do as an author. Facebook is more about the dog activities and LinkedIn is focused on my engineering business (I have to pay for kibble somehow!) I constantly do demonstrations with the dogs to civic groups - Scouts, church groups, retirement centers, park districts. If they call, I do my best to be there. I'm also going to be teaching a devotional writing seminar at our local church. I called in the big guns from my critique group for help on that one.
What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?
No one is all bad or all good. Give you protagonist feet of clay and your antagonist a reason for being so mean. The worst advice I ever got was give up; the publishing industry will be dead in a few years so why waste the effort. Nope, Joshua 1:9, give up is seldom part of my vocabulary, and while the format might change, there will always be room for a good story.
Anything else you'd like to take this opportunity to say?
Thank you to a true Texas gentleman and my agent, Terry Burns. Thank you to Maureen Lang, Julie Dearyan, Dawn Hill and all the members of the Fremont Christian writers group for guiding my writing to ever better levels in the craft. Thanks to Linda Mickey for understanding why self-publishing is not my path and remaining my friend anyway. Thank you to my husband for getting a bowl of cereal for dinner with a smile because I was so involved in a chapter I lost track of time. Thank you to my son and all the members of Troop 198 for their inspiration and antics, I'm proud to know you even when you make mistakes. Finally, thank you to all my canine partners; past, present and future, my life is richer for having known you.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
On a recent Facebook entry Gloria Penwell shared with FB friends that her husband Dan Penwell has only three months to live. This is hard news to receive.
I have known Dan for probably close to 28 or 29 years. Dan was the book buyer at Zondervan Family Stores when I first knew him. I was a sales rep at Whitaker House Publishing. My boss, Bob Whitaker, Sr. told me I had to get our books into the Zondervan Family Stores (at that time Zondervan owned the Family Christian Stores). I called Danny every week for months and I finally got an appointment to come up to the corporate offices for a meeting with him and the other officials of the company. I was terrified, but I flew up and bravely went into the meeting. I got on their radar and Zondervan Family Stores became my largest account. When I went up for appointments on a regular basis after that, Dan used to introduce me with, "This is Joyce Hart, she’s persistent and consistent.” It’s been a pleasure fellowshipping at Writer’s Conferences and ICRS with Dan. He is a dear friend.
Please pray for Dan, God could give us a miracle. Also pray for Gloria and their family.
John Vonhuf has sent out this message to writers (it can be to any friends of Dan)
Many on this list know Dan Penwell. Dan has been an acquisitions editor at
AMG for years and was a frequent speaker at writer¹s conferences across the
country. He has had a number of health issues related to his battle with
prostate cancer. Gloria, his wife, recently posted on Facebook that Dan has
been given three months to live.
Would you please be a part of my effort to give Dan a booklet of personal
notes from those he has touched over the years. I invite you to write a
short note of how Dan has shaped your writing, helped you get published, how
he has encouraged you, or any other personal note. Let¹s share words of
gratitude and encouragement so Dan and Gloria will know how he has impacted
Send me an email as soon as possible. Next week I will be asking writers at
Mount Hermon to do the same. We don't have much time to do this. Thank you.
Dan has bravely fought this illness for a long time. He has come to conferences not really feeling well. Many people would not have had the fortitude and stamina to teach and meet with authors as he has with his health problems. Be sure to write to John with stories about Dan’s encouragement to you. One thing I can say, he wrote the nicest rejection letters in the industry.
God bless and keep you,
Sunday, March 21, 2010
O Worship the King written by Robin Grant and J. Michael Haydin
O Worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender,
The Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in Splendor,
and girded with Praise.
O tell of His might,
O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light,
whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath
the deep thunder clouds form,
And dark is His path
on the wings of the storm.
Thy bountiful care
what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air,
it shines in the light.
It streams from the hills,
it descends from the plain,
And sweetly distills
in the dew and the rain.
Frail children of dust,
and feeble as frail,
in Thee do we trust,
nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender!
how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender,
Redeemer and Friend.
I woke up singing this song this morning and thought I would share it with you all.
May today be one filled with Praise to the one who is worthy!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I was reading entries on FaceBook tonight and there was an entry by Janalyn Voigt with the title “Called to Write.” This author says she has never been as busy as she has since she has been published. In the Writer’s Digest magazine March/April there is an article “Earn Money Doing What You Love.” What a cool thing to be able to make a living doing what you love to do. I’ve been able to do that. I love selling manuscripts for authors. I love reading books and I love being able to work from my home office. I admit some days it gets discouraging. I think this week I have had a record number of rejections. However, I also got some contract offers, and promises of offers in the next few weeks. I’m really glad; all those rejections were getting depressing.
At a writer’s conference I heard “A Writer Has to Write.” What is there about writing that is so compelling? Authors tell me that they have conversations by their characters running around in their heads. These characters seem so real the authors hate to leave a series, because they will miss them. I am fascinated by the things my clients tell me about writing.
It’s a wonderful thing to be able to make a living doing what you love to do. Is your passion writing? Then you’ll probably get published one of these days. Are you “Called to Write?” Do you have to write? Then find every opportunity you can to write, it doesn’t necessarily have to be writing for payment. Start out writing for free. Get the experience and get your name out on the web or wherever you can.
What about self-publishing? Is it an awful thing? I don’t think so. Many authors got their start by self-publishing and selling their books when they speak or online. I have one client who wrote a Christmas book and sold 2,000 copies right before Christmas, on his own. We took the book to a publisher and the first editor we sent it to bought it. It is a beautiful story; the title is The Paper Bag Christmas. It’s one of those stories than no one can read without crying, not even the men. An editor will seriously consider a book if you’ve sold 2,000 in two months. I have another one that I’m trying to sell now and haven’t found a publisher yet. This author sold 2,500 or more in a few months. So, I’m convinced that someone will catch the vision of this book one of these days.
There are other ways to make money by writing. Write for organizations online. Write for magazines and newspapers. Write wherever you can find to write. Write Advertising, write obituaries. If it’s a writing job do it! Writer’s Digest often runs an article about writing online. For this particular information you have to invest a minimal amount of money. But since it comes from Writer’s Digest, I would trust the program. Network on FaceBook or other social networks. Amazing what you can find out on these networks. The main thing is to keep trying and keep writing. Don’t lose sight of your dream. Trust God to lead you. Sometimes the smallest job can lead to a very big opportunity.
Proverbs 3:4 & 5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” NKJV. Psalm 37 is another of my favorite chapters. When you’re discouraged, read the Word.
Thanks once more for reading our blog. We appreciate each one of you and pray God will bless all that you set your hands to do.
May God bless and keep you,
Dear From the Heart reader, it is my privilege today to introduce to you, Conference Director and author, Marlene Bagnull.
Marlene thank you for joining us here today. Marlene you arrange and plan two writers’ conferences a year. Can you tell us when this first became a vision of yours? Exactly how did you begin the process and where has this journey taken you?
Actually it all started in early 1983 with the Nazarene Publishing House offering to help establish Christian writers groups. Shortly after that the editor of The Christian Writer asked me to plan a seminar for him in the Philadelphia area. I took a leap of faith and said yes to both opportunities little knowing that today I would be directing not one but two Christian writers conferences, each with a faculty of 60 plus. Truthfully, I’ve often said I would have run the other way. Why? I really wanted to serve the Lord, but self-doubts had a stranglehold on me back then. God has been so good to take me by the hand and grow me as He has grown the conferences.
What is the particular mission of your writer’s conferences?
My ministry and the ministry of the Greater Philadelphia and Colorado Christian Writers Conference is to encourage and equip Christians to “write His answer.” Whether through nonfiction or fiction, I believe our writing needs to point our readers to the answers that only can be found in Christ. This doesn’t mean quoting Scripture on every page or in every chapter, and it certainly does not mean preaching. Instead, I believe we need to be so grounded in biblical truth that it naturally flows through writing that is winsome and excellent.
I would imagine the planning of a conference is a lot of work. Do you have helpers?
As I was saying, I would have run the other way! It never ceases to amaze me how much work is involved in directing a three-day conference. Although this is my 27th year directing Philly and 14th year directing the Colorado conference, it doesn’t get any easier. I’m grateful my husband is now retired and is able to help with mailings and data entry. My three grown children, son-in-law, and daughter-in-law help each year at the Philly conference along with my three grandchildren. Well, Erin at 20 months, is still too little to help, but soon-to-be six-year-old Laura and her four-year-old brother Ryan love coming to the conference and helping. And then there’s my dear friend in Colorado, Margie Vawter, who assists me with both conferences. I’m very grateful she’s able to fly in and stay with us for a week or longer for the Philly conference. There’s also Wanda Dyson who coordinates the appointments for both conferences and lots of people who come alongside to help during the conference. Can I use more through-the-year help, especially in my home office? Absolutely!
Did your book title, Write His Answer: A Bible Study for Christian Writers and Write His Answer, A Book of Encouragement for Writers come before during or after the conference planning began?
The first edition of Write His Answer was released the day the Gulf War started. It, as well as the second expanded edition, both resulted from meeting the editor at a Christian writers’ conference. I waited until the 25th anniversary of the Philly conference to make “write His answer” the conference theme. Immediately people began referring to the conferences as the
“Write His Answer Conferences” and so the theme has stuck. Given the ongoing crises in our world I can think of no better theme.
Do you have any other titles brewing about in your head?
I have about 15 chapter titles for another Bible study book for writers and would also love to do a how-to “write His answer” book, but right now I know I can make the greatest Kingdom impact by directing the conferences. There honestly isn’t much time for writing during the almost year-round job of directing.
Has it been a fun experience over all, planning and promoting these conferences? Do you have any miracles you would like to share with us? Any times when you believe God showed up in a very pronounced way?
Fun? Not really. Years ago when I worked in the editorial offices of the American Baptist Churches I used to think that deadlines were exciting. They are anything but exciting and fun now. But does the conference work bring me joy? Absolutely! Even though the hours are often ridiculously long, the time pressures intense, and the computer glitches that seem to always occur during conference season stressful, I am so grateful Father has called me to this work. Each conference I see Him at work touching and changing lives, including mine! And every year He definitely shows up in a very pronounced way. One year that especially stands out in my memory is when we had two sheets of Styrofoam with little metal crosses on each that represented the number of Christians who had paid the ultimate price for their faith during the three days of the conference. I invited everyone to come and take a cross and then go back to their seats. We held our cross up and prayed for our brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. Last year in Philly C. Hope Flinchbaugh led a Chinese secret house church experience that she will repeat this year in Colorado. Words cannot describe the impact it had on all who participated.
How exactly does a writer’s conference meet the beginning author?
Jesus talked about building our house on a solid foundation. I believe that is what a Christian writers’ conference does for a beginning author. Beyond learning the basics and how to avoid all-to-common mistakes, the relationships that are formed are so important in encouraging a beginner to keep writing.
What do your conferences offer the published author?
For sure there is always more to be learned and friendships to be formed and deepened. Conferences also offer published authors valuable networking opportunities. One of the special features of each conference are the FOUR 15-minute one-on-one appointments with faculty that conferees choose.
Have authors that attended your conferences gone on to becoming published authors? Any one we might know?
Joyce Magnin has a debut novel with Abingdon and Christa Parrish met her agent at the Philly conference and is now publishing novels with Tyndale. Miggy Krentel was in her 80s when she went to the Colorado conference and landed a contract with David C. Cook. There are so many others. Thank You, Father!
This year what is the particular social justice issue you hope to bring to light for many that might not be aware of and what ones have you championed in the past?
Social justice issues and especially human trafficking will be highlighted at both conferences as well as the needs of persecuted Christians in China and North Korea. The August 12-14 Philly conference will offer a new continuing session on “Justice, Compassion & Advocacy” with Dr. John M. Perkins (also keynoting); Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz, advocacy writer, World Vision Int’l; Steven Lawson, senior editor, Regal Books; and a team of professionals.
What has been the hardest part of the fulfilling of this call on your life?
Without a doubt the spiritual battles. I remember Jim Watkins saying years ago that you can’t get several hundred people together and excited about writing for the Lord only to have the evil one say, “Isn’t that nice!”
What do you hope people will take away from attending this year’s conferences?
It is always my prayer that they will encounter God in a new and deeper way. Knowing Him is the key to making Him known in our writing.
Where can people find out more about you and the conferences?
In my “spare” time I manage three Web sites. The umbrella for my ministry is www.writehisanswer.com. It has Bible studies, how-to’s, info on my Write His Answer and Get Your Book in Print Seminars that I’m available to teach around the nation, a bookstore for writers, and more. Then there’s www.writehisanswer.com/Colorado where writers can register securely online for the May 12-15 Colorado conference. The Philly conference at www.writehisanswer.com/Philadelphia still has last year’s info. I plan to begin updating the site the end of this week and open online registration April 1. No fooling!
I confess to being Facebook, Twitter, and Shoutlife challenged although I do have an account with each. I know there’s so much more these groups offer that would help spread the word about the conferences, but until someone comes alongside to help me or Father miraculously grants me more hours in a day, I only occasionally post updates.
Would you like to offer our readers out there a last word of encouragement?
Keep your eyes on Jesus as the writer of Hebrews says. Stay in the Word. Trust Him and His perfect timing, and don’t give up. Stay on the growing edge spiritually and professionally. And to combat the self-doubts, disappointments, and discouragement that those who are truly called are likely to struggle the most with, order Write His Answer – A Bible Study for Christian Writers through my online bookstore at www.writehisanswer.com.
Marlene, thank you so much for joining us here today and I hope our readers will check out your links here in this blog and make plans to attend one of your conferences. I have had the privilege to attend both and feel they offer some of the best workshops, and faculty appointments an author could hope to find.
From my heart to yours,
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Since it's St Patrick's Day and a lot of people know that I'm a 5th generation Irish storyteller and a 4th generation Texas Bull Shipper (you notice how carefully I said that word) that it might be appropriate to say a few words.
My Irish heritage goes back further than 5 generations, that's just as far as I can document the storytellers in the line, although I suspect they all are. My great-grandmother was an O'Green from Cork County, although they dropped the O on the boat on the way over and it just became Green. I know her daddy could spin a wee tale, so that makes five for sure.
On St Pats day everyone wants to be Irish. I was at a conference in San Antonio when it rolled around a couple of years ago and everyone in the place was trying to be Irish to the core. When they found out I was the real deal I became something of a celebrity. Given my size they speculated that I might actually be a leprecauhn disguised in a ten gallon hat. Someone pointed out that leprecauhns were very little men but someone else quickly pointed out “not in Texas.”
I neither confirmed nor denied it and still stand by that position. If you look up the definition of leprecauhn it says "they usually take the form of old men who enjoy partaking in mischief." Ask my wife if that isn't true.
Should any of you be superstitious, or if you just don't want to take chances, the famous "Luck of the Irish" is only transferable on this day by receiving an Irish blessing, preferably from a real leprecauhn. For that reason I will now pronounce upon you the most famous of all the Irish blessings:
May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Oh, yes, it's also said that you can capture a leprecauhn and find the location of their pot of gold, but that's back in the old country and you'd have to catch one over there to accomplish that.
Monday, March 15, 2010
What is your latest project? Tell us about it.
The book is called The Next Chapter. It is a thriller where Sal Russo, a writer, finds his career in a freefall after losing his wife and daughter to a terrible accident. While missing deadlines and facing an ultimatim from his publisher, he finds a mysterious package in his garden. In it, he finds a chapter detailing a young girl's abduction. It ends with a challenge: Write the next chapter in her life, or she dies. Proving this is no mere hoax, the package also holds a plastic bag with a heart inside. Meanwhile, the police are investigating the girl's abduction as well as the reappearance of bodies of girls who'd gone missing years earlier. At each of the body dump sites the police find a page of one of Sal Russo's novels. With evidence mounting against Sal as a suspect, his only chance for vindication is to write the next chapter and save the girl before time runs out.
How did you research for this book?
I set the book in Bloomington, Minnesota and its surrounding cities since that's where I live. I called various law enforcement agencies, including the Bloomington Police Department, the FBI regional office and the BCA. I spent hours reading police procedure for abductions and crime scene investigation. I also had a contact who gave me detailed information on the Mall Of America's security procedures for the abduction scene.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
In the most unsuspecting places. For this book I woke up with an idea of a writing game where one person starts a story and the next person has to continue it. In my sleep-adled brain, I wondered what would happen if whatever someone wrote, it really took place. Around the same time I was doing a lot of thinking about God's sovereignty and why bad things happen to good people. I had an idea of a story that would show how even though God is directing our fate, he sometimes allows us to go through terrible things, knowing that he's working it to our ultimate good (in this case, Sal Russo directs the girl's fate in his writing).
What has been the hardest part of writing your latest book and how did you overcome it?
Getting from one chapter to the next. The first 100 pages were both fun and hard. As I got into the story, my outline changed completely and at times I felt like I was driving blind. I overcame the writing by doing what I call the Dean Koontz method. I wrote each chapter over and over until I had it down to what I wanted it to be. Then I moved on to the next. This allowed me to focus in on each scene and craft it for tone and feel. It also allowed my brain to get the story's tempo. I noticed the chapters get shorter and more intense as the story moved toward its climax.
What do you hope people will take away from reading your book?
That while we don't understand why God allows bad things to happen to us, He is in ultimate control and both sees us and knows us.
What new projects are you working on?
I'm working on a thriller/Adventure where treasure hunters are looking for the broken fragments of the original Ten Commandments that Moses brought down and shattered at Mt. Sinai.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing? The programs and speaking that you do?
I have a web site, www.brynjones.celestialsign.com. There you can read about me, view a few sample chapters of my novel and read a number of short stories that have been published.
What is the best writing advice you ever got? The worst?
The best advice: My mom: "Is that the best word you can use to describe that?" also a book called "Between the Lines."
The worst advice: The market doesn't like novels with writers as the main characters. Or men. Male writer characters aren't going to sell.
Anything else you'd like to take this opportunity to say?
Writing fiction is like being a superhero. There's this gift that seems so hard to use, is often overlooked or underappreciated, and yet it comes with great responsibility to use properly and constantly, regardless of compensation.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Dear Reader; I wanted to share with you a few of the highlights from the Fla Christian Writers Conference I just returned from this past Sunday.
This was the second year that the Fla Christian Writers Conference was held at the Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center located in Lake Yale Florida and my first time in attendance. What a beautiful venue for the conference. Each morning we were greeted by incredible beauty even if the temps were low and our breath could be seen as we walked over to the cafeteria where our breakfast was served. The food was very good and in plentiful supply. The dinning hall was banked by windows with a lovely view of the Lake and was wi fi wired.
The most outstanding feature of the landscape to this Pennsylvania girl was the Spanish moss draped trees. It gave the campus an Other Worldly feel. Mysterious and exotic. The perfect backdrop for the eclectic group pf writers editors and publishers assembled.
I thought I might share some of the wisdom imparted to us from the highly qualified faculty I was privileged to be a part of.
Three of the keynote speeches were given by Cec (Cecil) Murphey. For those of you new to Cec, he is an author and Ghost Writer of award winning titles, and has had 108 books published, 17 of them fiction. Cec’s current bestseller is 90 Minutes in Heaven, which he wrote for Don Piper. Another title he is well known for is, Gifted Hands,The Ben Carson Story, a personal favorite of mine. You can find out more about Ces at www.themanbehindthewords.com/ .
Cec spoke to us, "Don't be afraid to say things your way. Be as open and transparent as possible. In Christian writing it is easier to sound like everybody else. Be as real and as true to yourself as you can. Let us know who you are." He implored us to take risks, reminded us that we had something to offer others that only we could offer. "You don't have to be brilliant- be authentic!"
A second keynote speaker was Jesse Floren from Focus on the Family. Oh my goodness, he has us all laughing so hard and groaning the next! His introduction gave us a take away tag line, "Writing Will Make You Sick!" If you know anyone that was there- ask them to explain that one for you! We will never forget it! (Has to do with riding upside down in a P51 Mustang airplane for his first story for Focus.) Jesse also shared that we should realistically examine ourselves to see if we are meant to be a writer, Is the writing life for me or am I meant instead to be an editor, a marketer or an agent? Also, "You can't be a writer without hope. You must apply Christ's words on servant hood to the writers life. Serve your reader, serve your subject, serve the tools of the trade and serve the editor.We all have blind spots- editors often know best. Lastly but most importantly, serve God." He shared a quote by Ken Dyer, "The words you write, they are not sacred, nor the pen and paper but the heart that God moves is."
Author Jerry B. Jenkins spoke Saturday night. What a wonderful glimpse into the heart of a gifted writer. He shared the many 'malapropisms' his friend often said, making us LOL. He told us, "writers are good readers, great writers are great readers." He shared many excerpts from his favorite writers, driving home his point. He challenged the writer to write concisely and to use words the reader would understand, being careful to get out of your own way. Two scriptures Jerry shared were Psalm 91:1&2 and Joshua 4:19-24.
A highlight for me was getting to sit in on three workshops presented by Zena Dell Lowe titled Screenwriting- Using Hollywood Storytelling Tools. Most everything Zena presented is applicable to the novel fiction writer. She blew me away, pointing out by example many films I had seen, describing what they had lacked or succeeded in doing right. She stressed the importance of a writer telling a normal story in a unique way. For Example: Finding Nemo was a coming of age movie. Told in a different way. "Figure out your genre and write for it." "Action must have action, comedy must be funny." " Writers work better with boundaries". Sharing about spiritual gifts and demonstrating the fruits of the spirit, Zena reminded us it was not what we did but HOW we did it. "Don't carry the mantle without seeking God." Zena continued, "The writer must do a good job of telling the truth. Don't protect the reader by withholding truth from them. There is a lot of criticism that we think we hold the corner on truth- well we do!" Zena's told us to present the truth and let the Holy Spirit work. I highly recommend trying to catch this screenwriter at a conference near you!
In addition to these there were workshops on blogging, marketing, public speaking, writing a great book proposal, to how to make your reader care. I hope this gives you an appetizing taste of what a writers conference has to offer. We encourage you to attend one if you can.
I made a new forever friend in my roommate Nina Bergman as well as met many talented unpublished authors. An album of pics can be seen at my FB page. Stop over and take a look. Some of you will see many familiar faces.
A final note: A recurring thread of discussion through out the whole conference and from most editors we have talked with this year, is the need for authors to present the highest quality writing to their agents and editors. Hone your skills at workshops such as these, through online courses, and in critique groups. Make it an easy decision for the editor to chose your manuscript above the others placed on their desks.
Thanks for stopping by.
From my heart to yours,
I’ve been thinking about rejections this morning, especially since I’ve received three already this week. And yet, I’ve received some good news too, proposals going to committee, a publisher reconsidering a book that he turned down. All in the course of the work that we do here at Hartline Literary Agency. I know rejections are disheartening, they are for all of us, and believe me we get our share of them.
And then again, we get a good share of offers for publishing.
Here is an explanation from an editor of a rejection that I got yesterday:
“However, the basic reason we reject most of the proposals that we look at is that we decide, for a variety of reasons, that we won’t be able to sell enough copies of the book to make it a good business decision. That touches on the topic, the audience, the size of the audience, whether the audience in question is likely to buy a book on the topic (or would they be more likely to get their data off the Internet), the other books that are already out there on the same topic, and so forth.
All of this (and more) comes into play with every proposal we look at. If we don’t feel that we can move large numbers in year 1, with low returns, we don’t go after a book no matter how much we might like it personally.”
I hope this will help you to understand the business of publishing a little better. Rejections are not necessarily personal.
We all have to realize that publishing is a business, an expensive business. For many publishers it is also a ministry. However, those companies have salaries to pay, utilities to keep on, upkeep on buildings, etc. They have to make a profit to stay in business and publish the books they do buy.
Keep on writing and don’t get discouraged when you get rejections. Well, you can get discouraged a little while, but then get up and write some more. One well-known author wrote eight books before he got one sold. As I’ve said before it takes consistence and perseverance.
May you all have a wonderful day, encourage one another and write for His glory.
In His service,
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
It is a good idea to think it through and decide what our free book policy should be. I did think it through and came up with one before I had books to give and made it known. That’s easier than trying to change policy midstream.
I do give copies to immediate family, mom and kids, although one or two like to have a collection of them but rarely if ever read them.
Traditionally one is given to whoever the book is dedicated to.
To other family and friends I make it clear that I get a limited number of author copies and once they are exhausted have to buy books to have personal stock so I expect people to buy them. I have a local bookstore that I consider my ‘home store’ and keeps my books in stock. I apologize for being out of author copies and refer family and friends there to get them. I also count on family members to come to book signings in their area and to help turn out a crowd. It is a key factor for a decent book signing to have someone who will assume a personal responsibility to have people there and make phone calls to make that happen. Family are the most likely candidates if that role is made clear to them.
Blog tours and reviewers plus any that might be given away with an interview I don’t consider giveaways but advertising and they show up on my income tax just that way. It’s hard to quantify what sort of impact these have on book sales but all contribute to the ‘word of mouth’ promotion that everyone agrees is the most important of all of the strategies for book promotion. There are some reviewers that have to be done in advance of the release of the book and often these have to be done by the publisher rather than the author. These are the critical reviews, the ones that book buyers for libraries and bookstores count on for selecting products they will acquire since they obviously cannot read all the books.
At church I will often give signed books if they will put an appropriate amount or more in the building fund in my name, then I deduct that amount from what I give to the building fund. That means I am putting the amount in the building fund I intended to give and putting a few books out in the process. That also makes me feel less like one of the ‘sellers in the temple’ where Jesus overturned their tables and tossed them out. That’s not company I want to be in.
The point is, the smart thing to do is to think it through before the process starts in order to be able to articulate just what the policy is. The most important phrase for those family and friends that think they should get a free copy is “I’m sorry, I have exhausted all of my author copies now and have to buy them just like you do.” But be careful about exceptions, exceptions lead to more exceptions.
I'll be interested to see your further thoughts on giving away free books.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Cleo, when did you first develop your passion for writing? During high school and college, I loved any written assignments. Keeping journals during those years taught me to express emotions. When my children were growing up, I wrote devotionals based on their antics for our church newsletters. During their teen years, our family experiences became short stories and narratives for Sunday School papers and magazine articles.
You recently retired from Teaching. How did teaching influence your writing and did you get any of your story ideas from experiences at your school? The 26 years of teaching regular and special education translated into numerous articles for magazines such as Teachers in Focus. Whenever a student overcame a challenge, I wrote their anecdote in my notebooks. So many children in an urban setting struggle against great odds. Recording their victories inspired me as a teacher. These notes are the basis of story ideas.
You have tried your hand at writing historical and contemporary fiction genres, as well as non-fiction. What is your favorite book you have written so far? I really enjoyed writing Second Chances, a novel with a teacher fresh from the country trying to survive in Diamond Projects, an urban school. Of course, she meets the local police officer with a mysterious past. Her struggles to connect with her students parallel my own challenges as a first-year teacher from a dairy farm facing a class of forty-two culturally deprived students in a high crime district. Wouldn’t this make a great series about other teachers in Diamond Projects?
I certainly think so! Hopefully the publishers will too.
You have a published book titled, Grandpa’s Remembering Book. Can you tell us a bit about this book and why you wrote it, Cleo? Grandpa’s Remembering Book is inspired by the heart wrenching deterioration from Alzheimer’s of my Aunt Lois, and the illustrator’s father-in-law. In the book, the steps for passing memories from one generation to another is provided. The practical text engages the reader in a journey of empathy depicting a tool to use with memory loss in loved ones. Although it looks like a children’s picture book, it is a family informational book.
What has been the response from its readers? Several nursing homes in the
Cleo, the story I signed you on with was about the Orphan Trains of
My brother’s family lives in
Do your characters just pop in your head? Where do they spring from? My characters for A Mother’s Song are based on the types of women who entered the orphan train experience. One is the women who must give up their children and the other is the women who adopt these children. Their stories are as varied as the women themselves, but underneath the motivation of most women is their love for children. Widely reading their narratives enabled me to feel their pain and longings.
How do you research your historical stories, do you spend a lot of time at your library? Yes, I utilize the local library, but I actually buy a lot of books so I can underline and go back to passages. Through the internet, I gleaned a lot of information as well as contact with the resources at the
What do you hope people will take away from reading your books? We all face difficulties and problems, whether as an orphan, urban teacher or caregiver. In every book that I have written, the power of love to overcome obstacles is evident. Our ability to love comes from a deep realization of God’s faithfulness.
Cleo, I know that you’re a member of ACFW. How has this been a help to you? Do you belong to a local chapter? ACFW is the first inbox mail that I open in the morning. I enjoy reading other author’s opinions, suggestions, struggles and triumphs. Such inspiration! I do belong to a writer’s critique group with Lynn Austin, Jane Rubietta and Joy Bocanegra. They keep me accountable both professionally and spiritually. Writing is not a Long Ranger adventure. We need each other to make it.
I would imagine like most authors, once people know you are writing you get a lot of advice. What has been the most helpful to you? At the Wheaton Write to Publish Conference, one of the panel members said she used the “button chair method” to write. It really works!
Do you use any of the newer technology in your writing habits? I am connecting with other authors through Facebook, and tend to Google a lot more. A yellow legal pad is still my best bet for writer’s block. The feel of a lead pencil on paper is magical.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing and your previously published title? I am on Facebook, loving to communicate with other authors. Amazon.com carries Grandpa’s Remembering Book.
Would you like to offer the other authors out there a last word of encouragement? Our words can be healing in a broken world. We need to hone our craft and become the best communicators of God’s love that we can in a fresh and relevant way. That is my desire.
Cleo, thank you so much for joining us here today. It has been good to get to know you better. It is apparent your writing is ministry as well as a labor of love. May your Grandpa's Remembering book continue to help families deal with their heartbreak and we hope to see your others tiles join this one on Amazon.
From my heart to yours,